Party season is upon us once more and here’s the essential rundown on appropriate menswear.
Cocktail or dinner party
There are few dress codes that furrow the modern man’s brow more than cocktail, which bridges that gap between daytime casual wear and full-on formalwear. When you’re attending an event with ‘cocktail’ written on the invite, you’re often there to celebrate someone — a birthday, an engagement, a wedding — who deserves to be the centre of attention, so that means understatement is the name of the game to make sure the guests don’t go home talking about that bloke wearing the lime and mauve tartan trousers or the leopard-print fedora. A black suit looks too stuffy — go for light grey or off-white in summer or to the races, or navy for a contemporary, slightly more formal look, with accessories like a tie (optional) or a pocket square adding a pop of colour. A blazer with chinos is fine, but you’re wandering into ‘too casual’ territory if your outfit includes denim or anything less than dress shoes — stick to a safe pair of Oxfords or on-point monk straps.
At a bar
A slightly less dressy occasion is your cue to inject some denim into your ensemble — every man needs a pair of navy jeans in his wardrobe, pairing beautifully with a crisp white button-down and a blazer when you’re letting your hair down at drinks, or you can mix things up with chinos, either exposing a bit of ankle above a detailed brogue, or experimenting with a colour other than tan. The cooler weather also makes it easier to play with layering textures and patterns; for example, a patterned scarf with a striped shirt and herringbone blazer, or jackets featuring louder patterns like a windowpane check or a nailhead (even corduroy if you’re feeling bold), or a turtleneck jumper — the 1970s favourite charging back into vogue this season — complementing a blazer, slim pant, and sleek boot.
If you’re trying to fly under the radar at a cocktail party, a looser affair is the occasion to command attention with your newest pair of sneakers and your most daring jacket. A comfortable plaid flannel shirt with light jeans is a casual ensemble that clearly says you’re here to let your hair down, as does a graphic T-shirt beneath a leather jacket, a chambray shirt with black denim and canvas sneakers, a well-fitted polo paired with skinny jeans and trainers, or a plain white tee under a relaxed, softer button-down. Chino shorts with a loose-fitting tee, plain white sneakers, and wayfarer sunnies forms a reliable summer party outfit, while winter is an invitation to make a statement with accessories like scarves, graphic hoodies, patterned sweatshirts, and headwear like a five-panel cap or a beanie — the trend of 2017 is oversized, chunky knits featuring heavy wool, thick stripes, and neutral colours like grey and dark blues.